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Restaurants & Bars 7

Irving Cafe and Deli, Sunset, SF

Limster | Mar 2, 200211:55 PM

I've been to this total hole in the wall on Irving and 22nd a couple of times over the years, but Low End Theory just reminded me of this place recently for which I'm truly grateful. It's an excellent low end place for Vietnamese in the Sunset, especially in the bahn mi and noodle departments.

A week and a half ago I had a well made and fairly generous combo bahn mi with all the fixings. As usual, the textural composition from the different kinds and cuts of meat made it very enjoyable.

Today I chowed on the house special flat rice noodles (#37 I believe). Good stuff. Instead of vermicelli, I get well textured flat rice noodles (essential kway teow). Garnishings include julienned cucumber, pickled carrots, mint leaves, peanut chunks and most importantly, a subdued scatter of caramelized shallots (great flavor and aroma!). And of course the sweet vietnamese sauce. On the meat side of things: slices of a pork terrine of some sort (think giant pork ball with a similar bouncy texture), good shredded pork (sandy texture is wonderful, but some might not like that) and a dough cake crowded with chunks of taro, mung beans and prawns, the whole affair deep fried to a great crunch.

This place is great in the street food sense of the word. And cheap. My plate of the noodles above went for $5.20 incl. tax, no tip and it was a huge serving -- that's the most expensive noodle dish. And if I remembered correctly, the foot-long combo bahn mi goes for $2.30, the priciest of all sanwiches there. Beats out lots of neighborhood Vietnamese places in my book. (No pho though.)

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